I wasn’t sure what to make of Exit Wounds when I first opened it. It’s not normally the sort of graphic novel I read. Although I didn’t really connect with Koby or Numi, I found myself drawn in by the backdrop of Israeli daily life.
The story is about Koby Franco, a cab driver, who learns from a soldier, Numi, that his estranged father may have been a victim in a suicide bombing. Koby reluctantly agrees to help Numi find out what happened.
What intrigued me about this story was the honest look at the harsh realities of life in Tel Aviv. When Numi asks people about the suicide bombing, she always has to clarify that she means the one that happened in Hadera, not Haifa, the latter one apparently having been a bigger explosion. In another instance, a woman in the mortuary smiles and informs a man that of course he can have a video of the body, he only need supply the blank tape. Such moments like these and the many more included in this book all come across as normal, daily conversation.
As for the artwork, I liked the clean, simple lines. And it’s because of how mundane the violence has become that the pastel colors worked so well. The soft muted tones helped dull the harshness of it. And that makes sense. I would imagine there’s a numbness that must exist to keep from going insane in such a setting. People adapt and find ways to cope.
The plot, however, was missing something. I didn’t feel any need to find out the mystery behind the disappearance of Koby’s father. At times it seemed more like a way to just pass time. And things happened to and between the characters that didn’t seem believable. But then maybe we weren’t given time to know more about the characters. I’m not sure.
In any event, it’s certainly an interesting read at least for the cultural backdrop.
An interview with Rutu Modan: